Chicken Noise Complaints (aka Everybody’s Bawking At Me)
My wife was commenting the other day about how even though where we live is pretty far from a city, some of our city neighborhoods were actually quieter than where we live now. There are a lot of trucks that pass by on a nearby road, as well as frequent commuter rail and freight train horns. As the summer months approach, let’s not forget about motorcycles. And while we’re speaking of things on two wheels, we also seem to have wound up in a place where large groups of middle aged men put on silly spandex outfits and ride bikes en masse. The bikes themselves are quiet, but the chatter of the riders can make a din, and some of the outfits are quite loud. The good news is that very little of this wakes us up at night.
The bad news is that there is something that wakes me up consistently on weekend mornings. Now that the sun is coming up early, it means the chickens are waking up earlier. They don’t have any curtains, so with the first light, they wake up and wait patiently for their master to let them loose into the run. Did I say wait patiently? I meant they begin to make constipated squawking noises at high volume until someone lets them loose. That someone is me. On weekdays, this isn’t a big deal. I get up disgustingly early during the week in order to make the train, and so I am up before the chickens get restless. But it’s exactly because I get up so early during the week that I want to be able to sleep in a little on weekends. Well, chicken culture doesn’t seem to have calendars, so they don’t know about the weekend. I suppose that it has to do with them working from home. Their job is never done! And they’re dedicated workers, so they make a stink when they can’t get out there and chicken.
Here’s the scene: day breaks, the sun comes up, the chickens start complaining. Why is it such a big deal? Well, it seems to have to do with a flaw in my coop design. I have managed to lay things out so the large window in the coop points towards the window over our heads in the bedroom. So with the nice weather when the windows are open comes a relatively direct line of squawk from the coop to the bedroom. I’ve tried using earplugs, but chickens seem engineered to produce frequencies that cut right through those things. If I’m lucky, I get to sleep in until 5:30. I let them out, and they’re happy.
The next problem arises when they get too happy. I’m not 100% sure what triggers it, but more and more often these days, at least one chicken will go completely berzerk and sound her barbaric yawp over the rooftops. Or more accurately, sound her barbaric bawk over the cooptop. The bawks are loud, frequent, and repetitive, but also joyous, so this is actually kind of fun. A new development is that one will start and the others will join in. So all six chickens are bawking in unison. The first time this happened I was certain something was threatening them, but when I got to the coop, there they were, all sitting on the roosts, squawk squawk squawking like it was perfectly normal. I took out my camera to get it on video, and they immediately fell silent. I have tried to document this on multiple occasions, even sneaking up on them with the camera, but they can sense when it’s out, and they clam up. I tried to explain to them that people often watch funny animal videos on the internet, but they’re not having it. These chickens value their privacy.
Sure, they’re noisy, but it could be a lot worse. There’s a farm down the road that has a bunch of roosters, and they don’t just crow when the sun comes up. They crow if the sun is out, or even if it’s overcast. There’s a housing development that runs along the side of the farm, and I suspect those people have some regrets about moving in, since they weren’t there first. We’re lucky to not have anyone living in the house next to us, so for now, I’m the only one bothered by our chatty ladies. If someone should move in, I’m sure you’ll be hearing about what happens. Unless my lawyer has advised me not to talk about it.